Obedient FaithBrings Divine Rest Adapted from a Greg Nance sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/print_friendly .asp?ContributorID=&SermonID=53265
A preacher assured his congregation he was their servant and that they should feelfree to call him anytime they had a problem. The preacher’s phone rang at 3 a.m., and an elderly Church member said, “preacher, I can’t sleep.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” he comforted her. “But what can I do about it?” “Preach to me awhile,” she replied.
Maybe you’ve heard in the news that a large percent of Americans today are suffering from sleep deprivation. It causes road rage, traffic accidents, health issues, conflict at work and at home. We sufferfrom the curse of not enough rest. For many it’s not that we don’t have the time to rest, it is that we don’t have the motivation to sayno to the demands and desires that keep us from rest.
And even for those that do slow down, there is that gnawing sense of incompletion that prevents peaceful rest. In fact, there is the illusion that life is made up solely of whathappens here and now so that you have toget it all now or you’ll never get it at all. But when you look at what people are chasing after that is supposed to bring satisfaction, what do you find?
Who succeeds in getting what they areafter? Looking for the fulfillment that brings rest, everyone charts their own course in life instead of following the way that Godhas set before them. So many people are striving to enter the wrong rest. They are chasing after the wind.
But is there a rest that we may enter andfind true joy? Hebrews 3 and 4 tell us about God’s rest that he has prepared for us to enter. It is that sense of satisfaction where the soul finds completion and the heart finds the joy of fulfillment. It is that quality that everyone pursues, but in all the wrong directions, fruit of the Spirit that cannot be found anywhere but in Christ.
Listen to Jesus words in Matthew 11:28NET Come to me, all you who are wearyand burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble inheart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry."
Even in the Old Testament this wasunderstood. Listen to Jeremiah’s testimony in Jeremiah 6:16 NIV This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask wherethe good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Listen to David’s testimony in Psalm 62:1 NIV My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him.
The Hebrew writer bears witness to ablessing from God that speaks to all people of all times and in all places. We all want the joy and fulfillment that brings peaceful, divine rest. Rest for our very souls. What a beautiful picture! What doyou think of when you see a sleeping baby?What cares and worries stir in the heart of a sleeping infant? Would you like to have unburdened rest? God has much greater rest in store!
Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spiritsays, "Oh, that today you would listen ashe speaks! 8 “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness.
9 “There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for fortyyears. 10 "Therefore, I became provokedat that generation and said, Their heartsare always wandering and they have not known my ways. 11 “As I swore in my anger, They will never enter my rest! " Ps 95:7b-11
This is a quote from Psalm 95:7-11 and the context is a Psalm of worship. But at the last third of this Psalm he breaks into this warning. Notice the four sections here. It opens with, Oh, that today you wouldlisten as he speaks! Then it says what notto do. And we see three things God says of the people of Israel that angered him:
They hardened their hearts, they testedme, they saw my works for 40 years! God then becomes angry and says: Theirhearts are always wandering and they have not known my ways.
Finally, what consequence did Israel sufferfor hardening their hearts and testing God and rejecting his ways? God swore, “They will never enter my rest!” Hell must be a place where endless futilelabor continues forever with no rest. Some people have already entered that kind of labor! Let’s continue…
Hebrews 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the livingGod. 13 But exhort one another each day,as long as it is called "Today," that none of you may become hardened by sins deception.
Did you hear those words? Look at them again. Here is a warning and a way. Firstthe warning: Notice the 2 elements that aredangerous here. evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The big danger that hinders divine rest is an unbelieving heart that is hardened by sin’s deception.
Second we see the way. The way of rest inthese verses is daily encouragement. How often? Daily. Is that Sunday’s andWednesdays only? No, it is daily! "Today," EVERY DAY. How often do you eat and drink? Why? What would happen to you if you only ate and drank as often as youreceive and give spiritual encouragement?
Would anyone be starving or dying of thirst?Encouragement in Christ is more importantthat physical food. The way to rest includes daily encouragement in Christ. Verse 14 lays out the main point the writer wants us to learn from this section. We all need to take it to heart! It is obvious he’s writing to Christians. 3:14 For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact wehold our initial confidence firm until the end.
partners with Christ, seems to be pointingback to, Hebrews 3:1 NET Therefore, holybrothers and sisters, partners in a heavenlycalling, take note of Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess, Jesus is my Lord, Savior, King…but howare we partners? I think Paul clears this up for us in his letter to the Saints in Rome.
Romans 8:16 NET The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are Gods children. 17 And if children, then heirs(namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirswith Christ) — if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.The last part of verse 14 indicates we’ll be partners… if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end.
This same thought is stressed again in, Hebrews 6:11 NET But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, 12 so that you may not besluggish, but imitators of those who throughfaith and perseverance inherit the promises.
Now he gives us an example of what will happen if we do not hold our initial confidence firm until the end. 15 As it says, "Oh, that today you wouldlisten as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Ps 95:7b-8) 16For which ones heard and rebelled? Was itnot all who came out of Egypt under Moses leadership?
17 And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, exceptthose who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.
To avoid hard hearts, hear God speakthrough Jesus, heed what he says, hold on to it and help others in it by dailyencouragement. Hear, heed, hold and help! These make up obedient faith. Obedient faith leads to the joy of divine rest. We areon the path to rest in Christ. But we are not there yet! Read on…
Hebrews 4:1 NET Therefore we must be wary that, while the promise of entering his rest remains open, none of you may seemto have come short of it. 2 For we had good news proclaimed to us just as they did. But the message they heard did them no good, since they did not join in with those who heard it in faith. Just as in 3:14 again the main point of this section is stressed.
There is a real danger that a Christian might come short of entering the divine rest. Notice his comparison. The good news ofGod’s rest was preached to them and to us, but they didn’t believe what they heard. Israel that failed to enter God’s rest, failed because of unbelief. It wasn’t that they quit sacrificing or quit going to worship.
It wasn’t because they stopped hearing theGod’s Word preached or stopped practicing their religious practices. It was because they stopped believing. Unbelief leads to disobedience. Do you know how importantit is that we keep on believing God? Faith is the foundation of the obedience that bringsdivine rest. Faith is the foundation by which we receive all the blessings of God.
Obedience that comes from faith reveals faith. God continues to invite believers toenter his rest. Let’s read on… 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my anger, They will never enter my rest! " (Ps 95:11) And yet Gods works were accomplished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this way:
"And God rested on the seventh dayfrom all his works," (Gen 2:2) 5 but to repeatthe text cited earlier: "They will never enter my rest!" 6 Therefore it remains for some to enter it, yet those to whom it was previously proclaimed did not enter because of disobedience.
7 So God again ordains a certain day, "Today," speaking through David after solong a time, as in the words quoted before, "O, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken afterward about another day. 9 Consequently a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God.
When are you invited to enter God’s rest? Today! How do you enter? Hear his voice and in faith, heed his words, lay hold of Christ, and help others remain faithful and remain faithful yourself by daily encouragement. Is this rest a reality? Of course it is! Jesus promised it in the verses we read earlierfrom Matthew 11 just as The Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews encouraging us to make every effort to enter God’s rest.
Hebrews 4:10 For the one who enters Gods rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works. 11 Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall byfollowing the same pattern of disobedience. God has shown us we must be diligent in our faith & obedience to him.
The Israelites saw firsthand the miracles of God. They walked across the Red Sea & the Jordan River on dry ground and heard the voice of God, & feared the glow on Moses’ face. They ate manna from heaven & drank water flowing out of a rock. Theyfailed to make every effort to enter that rest.Disobedience & unbelief kept them from the promise of God rest. We must not let that happen to us!